Game of Thrones is known for being the the show that crosses the line many times during it's airing on HBO, showing the most shocking things ever to be shown on a TV screen. The series isn't afraid to show nudity, sex and gory violence and rape, and with all that comes a lot of controversy from critics and fans.
The most controversial scene from the show was from season 5, where Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) is raped on her own wedding night by the cruel Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) while traitorous Theon Greyjoy watches. After the show went off the air, fans were outraged because of the scene and sparked headlines the next day.
Brian Cogman, who wrote the episode "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken," along with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, have strayed away from speaking publicly about the controversial scene, until now. For the DVD commentary, Cogman wanted to settle this discussion once and for all. He spoke about defending the sexual violence towards Innocent Sansa Stark.
“I think it’s important to talk about because of the response this storyline got… It’s sort of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t.’ If you don’t talk about it, people think you’re ashamed of it; if you do talk about it, everything you say is taken out of context. Basically, when we decided to combine Sansa’s storyline with another character in the books it was done with the idea that it would be hugely dramatically satisfying to have Sansa back in her occupied childhood home and navigate this Gothic horror story she’s found herself in and, of course, to be reunited with Theon – setting her on the path to reclaiming her family home and becoming a major player in the big overall story. That said, when we decided we were going to do that we were faced with the question: If she’s marrying Ramsay, what would happen on her wedding night? And we made the decision to not shy away from what would realistically happen on that wedding night with these two characters, and the reality of the situation, and the reality of this particular world.”
Cogman also explains how the backlash had more of an emotional impact on the writer.
“It was a very difficult scene for me to write… I’ve known Sophie since she was a kid… I think it was the attack on our motives behind it that upset me. Because I love these characters. I’ve spent the better part of the last decade with these characters, and I love these actors – I’m getting emotional talking about it – I love Sophie, I love Alfie, I love Maisie [Williams – who also features on the commentary] and it’s … very personal to me and it’s not an easy thing to put a character that I love through a scene like this.”
Cogman briefly mentions Williams' Arya when explaining why Sansa didn't hit back against Ramsay Bolton.
“Yes, it would have been hugely satisfying [for Sansa] to have a shiv up her sleeve and gut Ramsay, but that’s not Sansa. We can’t all be Arya (Williams) and, in fact, most people aren’t Arya. Most people in that situation, they have to play a longer game. She goes [into the marriage] without the right information about Ramsay, she gets the sense that he’s dangerous, and when he turns out to be even worse than she thought, she’s not broken by the attack, she immediately sets to getting the hell out of there and planning her next move.”
Another controversial part of that scene was that the camera went to focus on Theon. Cogman settled why that was a better a better decision rather than cut to Sansa, who was the main focus in that episode.
Another argument – and I get why this criticism was leveled at us – is idea that we took Sansa’s story away from her and made it all about Theon [by cutting to his face at the end]. I personally don’t believe that’s the case … Certainly Theon’s redemption journey is an element of the subplot. But if you really watch this scene it’s played from Sansa’s viewpoint, for the most part. The main reason we cut away at the end, frankly, is that this was Sophie’s first scene of this nature, and we didn’t want to show the attack. And so we cut to Theon to hear the attack. I understand why many people reacted to that, [thinking] we were making this scene about Theon and not Sansa. I’m sorry it was viewed that way. All I can say is it’s certainly not my intention when I wrote it or when we were producing it … We could have stayed on her face of the entirety of the attack, that would have been a perfectly valid choice. To me it was about being respectful to Sophie.”
Turner has given fans hints of what's to come for her character, promising a greater future this upcoming season, and on the DVD commentary Cogman confirms exactly that.
“It’s an upsetting scene, it’s a horrifying scene, it’s meant to be … [But] the accusation that our motives were [that we] just threw in a rape for shock value, I personally don’t think the scene as shot, or as written, or as acted by our wonderful actors, supports that argument. Nor do I think the aftermath of the scene supports that argument. Not only in these episodes, but also in future episodes. This story is not over. This is a long ongoing story. Sansa has a journey ahead of her, and what happens to her in that room is a huge part of that journey, and one that we’ve thought through.”
Cogman and Williams have more to say about that controversial scene on the DVD and Blu-ray. Both editions contain the entire season, as well as deleted scenes and audio commentaries.
Game Of Thrones season 5 Blu-ray and DVD will be released on the March 15, 2016. Season 6 will premiere on April 24, 2016 on HBO.
Source: Entertainment Weekly